18 Dec 2020

Two die in Fiji from Cyclone Yasa

3:51 pm on 18 December 2020

Two people have died so far due to Cyclone Yasa, according to Fijian authorities.

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Photo: Fiji Govt

The then-category five storm hit Vanua Levu and its surrounding islands overnight, flattening homes, bringing down power lines and stripping the land of its vegetation.

The National Disaster Management Office Director, Vasiti Soko, said more than 93,000 Fijians had been impacted by the storm as it swept across Bua Province and the rest of Vanua Levu before tracking through the central Lau islands.

Assessment teams are yet to get to all the areas that were impacted but this afternoon the National Disaster Management Office Director, Vasiti Soko, said there had been two fatalities so far.

"I could confirm that one is in the Western Division and one is from the Northern Division. The issues surrounding how they died, that is still something we are still waiting for the Ministry of Health to confirm to us."

Soko said the dust had still not settled from the storm but the country was likely looking at hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage in the aftermath.

A coastal road damaged due to Cyclone Yasa

A coastal road damaged due to Cyclone Yasa Photo: Fiji Govt

She said there were currently nearly 24,000 people sheltering in 456 evacuation centres around the country.

The director also announced that a curfew would be in place tonight with Vanua Levu's beginning at 5pm through until 6am tomorrow while other parts of Fiji would have a curfew from 8pm until 5am tomorrow.

Earlier Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama had said Yasa was "jockeying for the southern hemisphere's strongest-ever storm in history".

Bainimarama warned this should be an indication that something was not right, adding it was a climate emergency.

Meanwhile New Zealand has announced it is sending an Air Force Orion to Fiji, to assess the damage caused by Cyclone Yasa.

Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, said the country stood ready to provide support to the Fiji government.

She said emergency relief kits and funding would be released to the High Commission in Suva to respond to needs on the ground.